There is a stir of melancholy in the air whenever summer finally arrives. Warm, hid days turn to cool and dewy nights. Tall glasses of lemonade are sipped on porches listening to the silent movement of birds overhead. Fireflies shatter from their winter cocoons and approach the night with guided lights. For some, summer brings love and new passions while others are crushed under the boot of defeat and heartbreak. With emotions flying like the geese flying north from a long winter in the South, good music is appreciated.
Usually around this time I get the urge to listen to something with a lot of acoustics. Maybe the hard/metal music is better suited for the wintertime to warm the bones on those cold snowy days. I end up listening to a lot of folk music akin to Simon & Garfunkel or the newly heard Damien Rice. Now I have a new album to add to my summer collection. Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam has released his second full-length album Our Endless Numbered Days, combining the melancholy of folk music and southern blues to create a gentle, yet strong album to remind us all of our endless summer days. While skimming through the first couple of tracks, I find myself escaping the noisy and quick-hitting city streets to a soft cool dock watching birds fly overhead and wind rustle tree branches. Unfortunately this escape is only temporary and usually is interrupted by the end of the CD or some mundane task I have to perform.
The cover depicts a man with his eyes shut and a sad gleam on his face; a caricature of our somber man of Iron & Wine. Beam understands the meaning of blues, and with the frequent use of the banjo, piano and plenty of the acoustic guitar, he creates a small symphony of harmonious flower gazing. His roots may not be as impressive as others, but can you blame a man for living in Florida? Maybe that is where he gets all the inspiration to write about summer joys and sorrows. Within all this creation of beauty and such, there are his flaws. An example would be his use of lyrics. As beautiful as his rhymes may be, their place in songs do not make all the sense in the world. Yet you cannot blame such a man of emotion to care all too much about the lyrical place. I would not be surprised to hear people quote his songs in their profiles or as general life messages.
In his last song “Passing Afternoon,” Beam uses most of his quotable quotes. He gently depicts the life he sees within his personal life as well as those he sees within his day. Our Endless Numbered Days reminds me of those summer days of staring into the tranquil peace of a lazy afternoon. It is the epitome of the season, but carries the musical breadth to last through a snow storm.
(Sub Pop Records)